Today, I am grateful for an autumn walk just after dusk. I am thankful for one last activity to ground me in the present moment, to ground me in my life right now. This is the place where I live. This is the body I am living in. Tomorrow these two things will be a little different. It is a gift to be able to spend time in the place where I am today.
My neighborhood is particularly beautiful with many old street lights that glow pink in the sunset and many old houses. As the sky turns from pink to gray, the lights in my neighbors’ homes come on slowly. One light bulb flicker at a time, illuminating the spaces they will use next.
A few of their children—those who do not tire so easily—are still in their front yards inventing games and laughing with each other breathlessly. They don’t wear coats, though I have my hat pulled down around my ears. They are not thinking about that encroaching evening when white puffs of breath restrict their lungs. They are creating the world where they like to live best. They are spinning out of control, living full-out. They will sleep so well tonight after eating the hot meals being prepared for them.
Their dogs bark more frequently. Since softer light prevents them from relying so much on their eyesight, they are quicker to claim their posts. “I am here,” they reassure. Reminding me that even when I cannot fully see my situation, I am just as safe. The sound of my own voice is a comfort to my uncertain self. I may not know all of what happens in the world, but I know where I’m standing. I know I’m not alone.
While the squirrels and birds have found quiet spots for the evening, the rabbits feel safer in the openings in darkness. They rush flower gardens in search of remaining leaves and petals, quickly tasting the last sweetness before winter.
I luxuriate in the smell of drying maple leaves just before the cold of night erases them. They are not as bright as they used to be. Instead of oranges and reds, they have curled into clay. And more of them crunch beneath my feet than quiver in the wind. The emptiness of branches yields beauty still. The long lines of limbs and branches create an opening for what the weather brings next.
As the mild light retreats further, so does my ambition. I am moving forward, one languid step at a time, closer and closer to the warmth of home.